History 3.3
28-30 Aug. 2001


I. “When Fathers Ruled”: The European Patriarchal Family

A. Approach: Linking social & political history together.

B. Functions of family unit primarily economic/political rather than emotional.

C. Christian religious teachings that bore on child-rearing and family life.

1. The doctrine of original sin (Adam and Eve) and the innate depravity of human beings

2. English and German Protestants (the chief colonists) held these ideas most harshly. Doctrine of "election" said most people were damned.

D. Growing Up and Bowing Down in Early Modern Europe

1. Requirement for submissive behavior of children toward parents: bowing, kneeling or standing, silence, no familiarity.

2. Child-rearing: goal of "breaking the will," preferably by force; emphasis on immobilization (swaddling) & body-shaping (corsets).

3. Education operated by same principles.

4. Parental control over career choice: primogeniture and "settlement" of younger children.

5. Parental control over, & economic basis of, marriage choice.

6. Marriage: women legally merged into husband through coverture, nearly same behavior required as children, wives expected to obey and could be beaten if necessary.

II. Rulers as Fathers of the People: Europe’s Authoritarian Politics

A. Colonization era (16th-17th centuries) as age of absolute monarchy, end of a long struggle by monarchs to build nations that they & their officials, not local barons & bishops, really controlled

1. The Stuart kings as English absolutists.

2. The Divine Right of Kings and the "royal touch": based on conception of universe as a hierarchy.

B. Origins of “sovereignty” as a political theory:

1. Need for strong, absolute rulers in a time of war and turmoil.

2. Hobbes’ Leviathan: life without sovereignty would be “nasty, brutish, and short.”

3. The structure of patriarchal family translated into politics.
Just as in family life, submission was held to be natural and liberty to be unnatural. No one was “free.” Filmer’s Patriarcha.

4. Religious authority was cited for this idea, even in America.

C. Patriarchy and sovereignty: the indivisible and perpetual nature of patriarchal/governmental authority.

1. The biological model: Families/communities were bodies with fathers/kings as the head. Hobbes’ illustration (as seen in class).

2. The absurdity of “imperium in imperio”: a divided sovereignty

D. These ideas about the necessity of sovereignty in government applied whether Europeans supported monarchy or not.